May 21, 2015
By Denise Allabaugh
More people are moving into Luzerne and Lackawanna counties than out, according to findings in the 10th annual Indicators Report released by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development.
Luzerne County’s total net gain of people moving in from 2005 to 2011 is 4,763, considerably higher than Lackawanna County’s net gain in migration of 699 in that time period.
Much of the migration to Northeast Pennsylvania is coming from New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, according to the report that provides the latest data available from the Internal Revenue Service on migration.
Teri Ooms, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, said she believes migration is on the rise in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties because of the affordable cost of living here.
“Housing prices are more competitively priced here in Northeastern Pennsylvania than they are in New York and New Jersey and the commute time is somewhat manageable for people so they can keep their jobs with higher wages and move here,” Ms. Ooms said.
Ms. Ooms and Andrew Chew, research analyst, will present findings from the Indicators Report today at a program beginning at 9 a.m. at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Twp. Pennsylvania Secretary of Policy and Planning John Hanger will be the guest speaker.
The report from the institute, which is managed by Wilkes University and provides research, analysis and consultation services, also shows ethnic diversity has increased in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties as well as statewide.
The Hispanic/Latino population as a total percentage of the population for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties and Pennsylvania has increased annually since 2008.
In Lackawanna County, Hispanics accounted for 3.2 percent of the total population in 2008. By 2013, the percentage increased to 5.9 percent. Luzerne County’s Hispanic population accounted for 4.5 percent of the total population in 2008. By 2013, the percentage increased to 8.5 percent. Statewide, the Hispanic population increased from 4.8 percent in 2008 to 6.3 percent in 2013.
“The cost of living is driving people here of all races and ethnicities,” Ms. Ooms said. “We already have a concentration of Hispanic people living in the region. The culture for that ethnicity is family-oriented. Once family members settle here and are happy and content, other family members tend to follow.”
The report covers more than 120 indicators for Luzerne and Lackawanna counties as well as statewide data. It includes data on health care, jobs, the economy, education, housing and other topics.
It shows that Luzerne and Lackawanna counties reported lower average income rates per person than the state average from 2000 to 2013.
The largest percentage of households fell into the earning category of $50,000 to $74,999 for both Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and Pennsylvania as a whole. In both counties, however, more than 50 percent of households have incomes below $50,000 per year. That statistic is 48 percent for all of Pennsylvania.
“We have higher concentrations of occupations and types of businesses and industry that pay lower wages,” Ms. Ooms said. “There are jobs that don’t require advanced degrees or post-secondary education.”
The report also shows while the rates of some crimes have increased slightly, the number of violent crimes has trended downward over the last several years.
“For a community our size, crime rates are about average,” Ms. Ooms said. “People tend to think it’s more unsafe to be here but it really isn’t. We’re branding ourselves in a poor light.”
Source: The Times Tribune